Five schools will receive funds to improve student performance

SPRINGFIELD – More than $20 million in federal Title I Section 1003(g) School Improvement Grants (SIG) will be distributed to five schools across the state over the next five years to help them implement comprehensive programs to improve student performance and college readiness.

“SIG grants provide funding as well as invaluable support and resources to the state’s neediest schools with the goal of transforming their climate and culture,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D.

“This is essential to fostering continued academic growth and greater opportunities for all students.”

The SIG program is designed to help the state’s lowest-performing schools that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to using the dollars to provide adequate resources in order to substantially raise their students’ achievement levels.

Each of the five schools in this year’s group of recipients will receive grant money for five years, through fiscal year 2020, pending reapplication and state approval each year.

The following schools were approved to receive funding:

District, School, Total Maximum Award (5 years)

Springfield 186, Matheny Elementary, $3,045,889.20

Sandoval 501, Sandoval High School, $2,293,001.70

East St. Louis 189, Gordon Bush Elementary, $4,821,721.74

Chicago Public Schools 299, Gage Park High School, $4,682,601.21

Rockford 205, Kennedy Middle School, $5,631,894.15

Total $20,475,108

“Through the SIG at Gordon Bush Elementary School, we will be able to further equip our children with the academic foundation necessary for success in college, work, and life,” said East St. Louis School Superintendent Arthur R. Culver.

For eligible schools to receive funds through this competitive grant process, each district must plan to implement one of six school intervention models approved by the U.S. Department of Education: Transformation, Turnaround, Restart, Closure, Early Learning Transformation, Evidence-Based Whole-School Reform, or Rural Flexibility.

All of this year’s grantees have chosen to implement the Transformation model, which includes replacing the principal and using a rigorous evaluation system that incorporates student growth and rewards teachers who are effective in improving student achievement.

SIG grants are made available through the U.S. Department of Education for states to provide sub-grants for eligible “Priority Schools.”

A Priority School is defined as a Title I or Title I-eligible school that is among the persistently lowest-performing 5 percent of Title 1 schools in the state based on a three-year average and demonstrates a lack of progress or has an average graduation rate of less than 60 percent over the last three years.

In Illinois, 18 applications were submitted on behalf of Priority Schools for the FY 2016 SIG grants.

The five highest-scoring applicants were selected to receive the grants. The State Board of Education approved the five selected schools for FY 2016 during its December board meeting.

This fiscal year marks the sixth round of SIG applications and awards. For a list of schools awarded funds during the past six fiscal years, visit the ISBE School Improvement Grant website at

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